Thursday, March 13, 2014

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (Mar 13)

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This weekly Adirondack outdoor conditions report is issued on Thursday afternoons, year round.

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SPECIAL NOTICES FOR THIS WEEKEND

** indicates active, new or revised items.

** WINTER CONDITIONS: A major winter storm has dumped an additional one to two feet of snow across the Adirondacks, on top of the foot or more already on the ground. Be prepared to break trail, and Temperatures will rise into the mid to upper-30s during the day Friday and Saturday,  before returning to the 20s Sunday and Monday. Wear a cold weather outer shell and bring winter gear, extra layers of clothing and a winter hat and gloves. Always check the weather forecast before entering the backcountry. Never travel alone, carry proper safety equipment; and inform someone where you will be traveling. Be prepared to spend an unplanned night in the woods.

** TRAIL CONDITIONS / BLOWDOWN: Trails have one to two feet of new snow on top of a compacted base – be prepared to break trail. Expect to encounter blowdown on trails from the high winds were encountered during the storm. Skis or snowshoes will be required everywhere. To avoid blowdown, stick to more popular trails that are cleared first.

** AVALANCHE WARNING: The threat of avalanches in the Adirondacks has been elevated with Wednesday’s storm. Avoid traveling on open areas with slopes between 25 and 50 degrees and no vegetation. If you are going to travel into avalanche terrain carry a shovel, probe, and transceiver, and know how to use them. If you are unsure, don’t go. Avalanches occur often in the Adirondacks and they can have deadly consequences.

** WARNING ABOUT SKIING SLIDES: The snow that fell Wednesday was of higher density and greater water content, which will add significant stress to the existing snow pack. In addition to the denser snow, snowfall rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour rapidly loaded slopes. The strong winds associated with this storm, significantly loaded leeward slopes in excess of 2 feet. As the storm progresses temperatures will drop and create a strong temperature gradient, which can create further weak layers. Skiers should be aware of avalanche conditions and the risk of avalanches: Have a basic knowledge of avalanche risk, prediction, avoidance and rescue; Carry beacons, shovels and probes; Check for avalanche conditions before skiing; Obtain your own data, the presence of ski tracks on a slope doesn’t eliminate the risk of avalanche; Remember safe travel techniques; Know how to self-rescue and have a rescue plan.

** CURRENT SNOW COVER: There is two to three feet of snow on the ground everywhere, with more at higher elevations and in the woods. The deepest snow  – about three feet at lower elevations – can be found from the High Peaks west and south into Herkimer county. Skis or snowshoes will be needed everywhere and one or the other are required in the High Peaks Wilderness.

** LONG RANGE FORECAST: The long range forecast is calling for daytime temperatures to rise back into the 30s beginning Tuesday and lasting through the week, with a chance of isolated scattered snow showers.

** KNOW THE LATEST WEATHER: Adirondack weather can change dramatically in a short time. Check the weather before entering the woods and be aware of weather conditions at all times. The National Weather Service (NWS) at Burlington and Albany cover the Adirondack region. NWS Burlington provides a weather forecast for elevations above 3,000 feet and spot forecasts for the summits of a handful of the highest peaks in Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties. [LINK]

** FIRE DANGER LOW: The fire danger in the Adirondack region is LOW. Campfires are prohibited in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness at all times. It is illegal to leave a fire unattended until it is fully extinguished.

** RIVERS RUNNING BELOW NORMAL: Rivers are currently running below normal for this time of year. Stream crossings are generally frozen and snow covered.

** ICE ON WATERS: Lake ice will remain in good shape, but is now covered with one to two feet of snow. Always check the depth of ice before and during crossing and avoid inlets, outlets and ice on or near running water. Ice that holds snow may not hold the weight of a person. Always use extreme caution on ice over water. NOTE: Ice shanties must be removed by March 15.

** DOWNHILL SKI REPORT: All the region’s downhill ski areas will be open this weekend with all of their terrain open, including at Big Tupper, Mt. Pisgah, and Hickory with the best conditions of the year. Very good conditions are being reported by skiers around the region. Big Tupper is reporting that this will be their last weekend for the season; Oak Mountain is planning to close after next weekend.

** CROSS COUNTRY SKI REPORT: All cross country areas are open with some of the best conditions we’ve had all year. Facilities have a 10 to 20-inch base and trails groomed.

** BACKCOUNTRY SKI REPORT: Expect to break trail. All back-country ski routes are reported in excellent condition with two to three feet of snow. Blowdown may be a problem on lesser used trails, so casual skiers may want to stick to popular trails. The blowdown below Indian Falls has been cleared by Ron Konowitz, Katie Tyler, and Colden Interior Caretaker Sean Platt. Skiers and snowshoers on trails and roadways used by snowmobiles should keep to the sides of the trail to allow safe passage.

** SNOWMOBILE REPORT: Trail conditions are now some of the best of the year, with the only caveat being that some lake trails may turn slushy this weekend. The groomers are all out, and trails everywhere are open and in outstanding condition. The portion of the Warren County Bike Trail that connects snowmobilers to trails in Washington County is now open. The Seventh Lake Mountain Multiple Use Trail is open for its whole length (DEC crews added ramps to the bridges that had been missing them). Cranberry Lake Lodge is closed for the 2013-2014 Winter season and no gas is available in and around the Cranberry Lake area. Do not ride on closed trails.

RECENT CHANGES IN THE ADIRONDACK BACKCOUNTRY

These are recent changes (within the last two weeks) to outdoor recreation roads, trails and facilities around the Adirondacks.

** indicates new or revised items for this week.

HIGH PEAKS – LAKE PLACID REGION
Including, Wilmington, Keene, Western High Peaks

** Snowshoes or Skis Required: Snowshoes or skis are required the High Peaks Wilderness. The use of snowshoes or skis eases travel through snow, avoids injury and prevents “post-holing”, which ruins the trails for others and makes them dangerous to traverse.

** Avalanche Danger: The danger of avalanche is elevated – see the warning above.

** Lake Colden and Avalanche Lake are frozen, use caution around inlets and outlets. There more than four feet of snow at Lake Colden and more at higher elevations.

** Flowed Lands and River Crossings: Flowed Lands and river crossings are frozen.

Ausable Lakes: The public easement agreement for the Adirondack Mountain Reserve (Ausable Club) only allows for hiking, snowshoeing or skiing on the designated trails and roads. Traversing the Lower or Upper Ausable Lakes is prohibited.

SOUTHERN-CENTRAL ADIRONDACKS
West Canada Lakes, Fulton Chain, Long Lake, Speculator, Indian Lake

The Seventh Lake Mountain Multiple Use Trail: The trail is now open for its whole length. DEC crews added ramps to the bridges that had been missing them.

EASTERN-SOUTHEASTERN ADIRONDACKS
The Hudson, Schroon, Lake George, Champlain, Sacandaga, Washington Co

** Warren County Bike Trail – The portion of the Warren County Bike Trail that connects snowmobilers to trails in Washington County is now open.

** Camp Santanoni: The final of three Camp Santanoni Winter Weekends is scheduled for this weekend, March 15 and 16. Skiers and snowshoers will be able access and learn about the historic buildings and warm up in the Artist Cabin with a fire and hot beverages. Find out more here.

Former Finch Lands – Essex Chain Lakes Tract: The Town of Newcomb is plowing Goodnow Flow Road. The public can park in the designated plowed area along the Goodnow Flow Road just before the Chain Lakes Road entrance – this is the road used in the summer to access the Hudson River at the Polaris or Iron Bridge. The public can access the Essex Chain Lakes Tract to ski, snowshoe or otherwise traverse the roadways and the lands. Interim winter public access will be limited this year as no plowed parking areas have been designated on the Essex Tract itself. The plowed parking area on the Goodnow Flow Road is used by the Gooley and Polaris Club members to park vehicles and snowmobile trailers – it is likely to be crowded on weekends. The Deer Pond and Chain Lakes Road gates have been closed and locked. The roads beyond are closed to public motor vehicle traffic until the end of the spring mud season. Members of the Gooley and Polaris Clubs will be able to use snowmobiles on the roadways to get to and from their camps.

NORTHERN-NORTHWESTERN ADIRONDACKS
Santa Clara, Tupper and Saranac Lakes, St. Regis, Lake Lila

Cranberry Lake: Cranberry Lake Lodge is closed for the 2013-2014 Winter season. The restaurant, tavern, and hotel lodging are closed, and there is no gas available on the premises. There is no access to Cranberry Lake from the Lodge property. At present, there is no gas available in and around the Cranberry Lake area.

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General warnings and announcements drawn from DEC, NWS, NOAA, USGS, and other sources. Additional detailed Adirondack Park camping, hiking, and outdoor recreation information can be found at DEC’s webpages. A DEC map of the Adirondack Park can also be found online [pdf].

The DEC Trails Supporter Patch is available for $5 at all outlets where sporting licenses are sold, on-line and via telephone at 1-866-933-2257. Patch proceeds will help maintain and enhance non-motorized trails throughout New York State.

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